Background Patient self-referral to a rheumatologist, without any former visit to the general practitioner (GP), was shown to be a significant contributing factor in delivering the optimal care for patients with early arthritis . The literature has limited data on the referral of patients with early arthritis by secondary care specialities to rheumatologists. This abstract compares the time required for patients with inflammatory arthritis to access the rheumatology clinic when referred by different specialities.
Methods We reviewed the medical records and electronic files of all patients with synovitis who attended our rheumatology clinic between 1st June 2012 and 1st June 2015. The following data was captured; demographics, time lag between onset of symptoms and the first rheumatologist consultation, date of referral, and the speciality of the referring physician. We stratified the patients according to the source of referral into two groups; GP referral and specialist referral. Data are presented as the median values and interquartile range (IQR). Mann-Whitney test was used to compare the two groups.
Results We identified 173 patients with inflammatory arthritis. 134 (77.5%) were Emirati's, 137 (79.2%) were females, and median age was 41 (IQR 34–52 years). 91 (52.6%) patients were referred by a GP. The median delay from the onset of symptoms to assessment by a rheumatologist for patients referred by GP was 214 days (IQR 59–722). Whereas, for those referred by secondary care specialities was 95 days (IQR 31–372). This difference was statistically significant (Z-Score =2.4655, p-value <0.01). The fastest referral was through accident and emergency department 63 days (IQR 5–185).
Conclusions In our population, patients with early arthritis were referred faster to the rheumatology clinic by a secondary care specialist rather than the GP.
Fautrel B, et al. Rheumatology 2010; 49:1 47–155.
Disclosure of Interest None declared